After making his team practice both Sunday and Monday following their defeat by a margin of 45 points, Norm Chow sat at his Monday press conference [University of Hawaii Athletics YouTube channel] and summarized the game against Nevada by saying simply, "All the wheels came off."
Hawaii travels east this week to take on the BYU Cougars (2-2), who have lost their last two games by a combined total of four points, including a loss to Boise State, 7-6. Chow spent 24 years at BYU as an assistant, including their National Championship year of 1984. While he recognizes his stint at BYU as a period of learning, his loyalties are clearly with the University of Hawaii.
"It's just a game that we have to get back on track with," explained Chow [per his press conference video] about the upcoming contest with the Cougars. BYU leads the series between the two teams, 20-8, and has won eight of the last nine games.
This season, the Warriors average 337 yards per game, with 11 touchdowns. Defensively, however, the Nevada game exposed the Hawaii defense, now ranked No. 116 in the NCAA. Hawaii surrendered 355 yards on the ground to Nevada in addition to the 69 points put up by the Wolf Pack.
"I could see the hurt in their eyes when it was all over," Chow revealed about the Warriors' state of mind at the conclusion of their game against the Wolf Pack.
The Warriors will need to lean heavily on their offensive weapons this week, namely running back Will Gregory (202 yards, one touchdown), John Lister (76 yards, two touchdowns), and the arm of Sean Schroeder, who has thrown six touchdown passes.
With a record of 1-2 this season, the Warriors have been blown out in both their losses (USC and Nevada) which does not bode well against a BYU Cougar team that has outscored their opponents by 52 points already this year. Freshman QB Taysom Hill has three rushing TDs, while senior quarterback Riley Nelson (64-of-109 for 754 yards) has thrown for five scores this season.
The Warriors' secondary will need to shut down BYU's leading receivers Cody Hoffman (21 catches, two touchdowns) and Kaneakua Friel (15 catches, four touchdowns) and make the Cougars a one-dimensional team. Through four games, BYU averages only 3.7 yards per carry and could only manage one score on the ground in last week's loss to Boise State, 7-6.
For the Warriors, the season needs to turn around now. Another loss would drop them two games below .500 with the prospect of facing San Diego State (2-2), New Mexico (2-2) and Colorado State (1-3) in the ensuing three weeks.
"Adversity reveals character," Chow explained at Monday's press conference, "and we're going to find out the character of our kids real soon."
Game Time: 6:00pm (Mountain Time), September 28; television broadcast on ESPN.